Youth Appreciation Award: Marchelle Smalls

Writing the wrongs

Many high-school students are active; Marchelle Smalls is also an activist.

The senior at Parkway Center City High School enjoys helping others and, when the need arises, she speaks up.

Marchelle, of the 1800 block of Cantrell Street, was instrumental in getting Parkway’s college-course option reinstated. It was an important cause for the 17-year-old honor student and senior-class vice president, who spends part of her free time tutoring and counseling younger students. The brainy teen also is a member of Parkway’s robotics team.

After school, Marchelle works at the Southwark Library, where she assists both librarians and fellow students. She also attends the "Freedom School for Leadership" to hone her skills as an advocate.

Marchelle is the coordinator of the school’s Poetry Jam, which brings guest poets in on a monthly basis. She also is organizing a Web site to go with the program.

The teen will apply her take-charge attitude to her next project this winter — her directorial debut based on a piece she submitted for the Scribe Video Project.

Marchelle aims to parlay all of her creative energy into a career as a reporter and plans to study journalism next year in college. She is still considering schools.

The student hopes to eventually combine a career in journalism and social justice, which she believes would be an effective way to continue helping others.

Her teacher, Gary Rothstein, believes Marchelle’s gifts will carry her far in life, just as they have at Parkway.

"Marchelle is an exceptional student who deserves recognition for her accomplishments," Rothstein says. "She is determined to achieve her goals and will put all her efforts into accomplishing them."

Marchelle Smalls will receive a $150 savings bond. If you are a teacher or full-time educator and would like to nominate a student (first through 12th grades), call 215-336-2500 ext. 120 or e-mail for a nomination form.

Helping youths get it ‘rite’

United Communities Hawthorne Family Center, 1100 Catharine St., is introducing Rites of Passage, a program geared toward helping sixth- through eighth-graders transition from childhood to young adulthood. The seven principles of Kwanzaa are used as a guideline to teach youths the necessities to function as mature young adults.

The Rites of Passage curriculum focuses on career development, leadership skills, entrepreneurship, mentoring and more. Participants will go on field trips and join in service-learning and community-service projects.

The program will be held Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6-7 p.m.

For more information, call Sabrina Rudd, 215-925-8617.

Host an exchange student

Have you always wanted to host a high-school exchange student but worried the 10-month academic year was too long a commitment? AYUSA (Academic Year in the U.S.A.) allows families to host a student for just five months.

The agency is interviewing prospective host families for second-semester students who arrive in late January and stay until school ends in June. Host families provide food, a bed and a warm, welcoming atmosphere. They are entitled to a $50-per-month income-tax deduction.

AYUSA provides trips and activities, and a local community representative to help with questions and problems.

For more information, call Barbara Overton, AYUSA regional director, at 800-251-4932

–compiled by Jared Byrd